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Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
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Opinion

Vouching for vouchers?

I’ll admit it. During my time in the Florida Legislature I was generally supportive of school vouchers. I bought into the argument that vouchers were similar in effect to the GI bill and the Florida Resident Access Grants, better known as FRAG.

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Bush Criticizes Tribune’s CSX Coverage

Posted Mar 7, 2008 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Mar 8, 2008 at 01:10 AM

Former Gov. Jeb Bush blasted the Tribune’s coverage of the state’s multimillion-dollar deal with CSX on Friday, after speaking on the qualities of leadership at Southeastern University in Lakeland.

The state plans to spend $491 million to buy CSX tracks in Orlando for commuter rail and help the company expand its freight operations into a new hub in Polk County.

The deal was a priority to Bush in his second term as governor, which ended in 2006, but it’s coming under criticism from several state lawmakers who say it was forged largely in secret and costs too much money. Also, they say it will greatly increase truck and train traffic through Polk County.

“There was no secret deal ... I resent the implication,” Bush said angrily. “I believe a significant number of people in this community support the thousands of jobs it will bring.”

The proposed hub, however, will employ at most 200. A second phase of warehouses and distribution centers could employee as many as 1,800, CSX has said.

Bush also said the CSX deal was a strategy to solve “a significant traffic problem in an important area of the state.”

Asked what he thought would happen to the deal in this legislative session, Bush walked away and said, “I don’t care.”

Related Story: ‘Independent Analysis’ Of CSX Rail Deal Questioned

More CSX Coverage